Crimson Lies Chapter 35
Final Fantasy VIII and all the characters belong to Square.
When you have robbed a man of
he is no longer in your power.
He is free again.
--Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
The crystalline waters of the Balamb coast gave way to the murky depths of the sea. He watched as the foam-tipped waves crashed into one another, not from the bow of the transport ship, but from the stern. Seifer knew the perils that lay ahead, but at this moment, he wanted to witness all that laid behind. His past. Every seagull, every cloud became imprinted on his memory. A memory that contained uncounted failures and betrayal, and one that now contained repentance and love.
Somehow, without his weapon he felt strangely empty. It was as if a piece of his soul was left at Garden, something of more than mere metal. It had always been with him, a story that he himself refused to divulge to others. However, in his heart he knew, knew of Hyperion's history of failure as with his father, as with him.
"Gil for your thoughts?" Her soft voice was barely audible over the steady roar of the motor.
He turned to see Quistis standing there, attempting to hide her concern with a tentative smile. The man could tell that she was scared, but did her best to veil her emotions. He reciprocated the gesture, turning back around to stare into the endless water.
"Hey, I think that was my pick-up line on you."
The instructor walked up, leaning both elbows on the security rail. She looked at the horizon, taking in the warmth of the newfound sunrise upon her skin.
"I would have never thought today would be so beautiful."
"You mean the fact it isn't raining fire and brimstone?"
Sighing she looked down at her own fingers, curling them around the brass railings. "Yeah, something like that."
"Who said the end of the world wouldn't happen on a gorgeous day? Maybe the fire and brimstone is in our own minds, and it's from there that we have to survive. We are told to believe one thing, but if you look around the fire is everywhere. It's just transparent to the naked eye, and that's what makes it is so deadly. It can consume you, and you never even saw the flame."
"Seifer, since when did you become so cynical?"
"I always have been cynical and sarcastic can go hand-in-hand."
To that she didn't answer, not sure of what to say. Quistis knew the question she wanted to ask, but that was premature only if their mission succeeded would it be relevant. If they were to be triumphant, where would he be when it ended if he survived? Would he once again return to the life of a fugitive, or stand to face trial at Garden? It was one thing to help, but another to know of your fate and accept the consequences. Would he run? She hoped not, right now he was all she had but Seifer would never know that. It was his decision, and she wasn't going to influence it on a false pretence. Her musings were interrupted when he broke the awkward silence.
"So, how is he?"
"He is..." She closed her eyes, trying to hide the shame. "He is not doing well."
"Still not talking?"
"No, not a word since this morning."
"Normally I would love Leonhart to shut-up, but this is "
"Yeah, I know."
"Not even a whatever?"
"Saying goodbye is hard," justified the Commander's one-time rival. "He just left one to save another, in a situation he should have never have had to face." As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized his mistake. Quistis turned quickly, almost running for the lower cabins. He hurried to catch up with her, grabbing her wrist almost forcefully, making her stop.
"Damnit Quistis, I didn't mean it like that. I meant no man should ever have to choose between the ones they love. Please, don't take it personally emotions are running high right now don't let my stupidity get to you."
"Okay, okay..." Her gaze hadn't lifted from the wooden deck. No matter what he told her, it was personal on so many levels. Then in a moment of weakness, she asked what she dared not think only a few days ago she had asked him the same question. This was final today it would be over with for better, for worse, and for death. "What will you do if we survive?"
"Take you out for a steak dinner, my treat."
She suppressed a chuckle, knowing he too was going to have difficulty with this subject. Her eyes met his and she spoke from her heart, not from her mind. "I'll wait for you, no matter how long."
He deeply breathed in, turning his face from her. He knew this was coming; it was inevitable.
"Five to seven years? Quistis are you truly willing to wait that long? You have your entire life ahead of you. I have been back in it for less than a week, and you are willing to waste your entire future on me? Hyne, I'm not worth it."
"Five to seven?" Her voice said with hesitation. "Five to seven years?"
He noticed the indecision in her voice, knowing that the last few days would eventually become nothing more than a memory to him, to her. Yet, he wouldn't have given up one minute spent with her, not one second. Never had he felt like this, no matter what, she would always remain special. Hell beyond special she would be the only person he was ever in love with. He had loved others before, or sincerely thought he had, and cared for few but the emotions had experienced in the last few days ran deep into his soul.
Somehow, he felt a connection that was indescribable; maybe in all his searching to be a Knight, he had never known the truth. He realized now that he never needed a sorceress, for the power laid within his heart and soul, forever binding them. Shit, he didn't even know where half of this was coming from, he felt like some cheap romance novel discarded to the wayside.
"Yeah Quistis, five to seven years." The words came out more sharp-tongued than he had meant.
She embraced his arm, holding on tightly. "No, no! That isn't what I meant I mean are you going back to serve them?"
His look was somewhere in between confusion and guilt. "Um...Quistis if I were to walk away now, what would be accomplished? Sure I might have helped Rinoa, but I have to discharge the debt within myself. Without redemption the soul is nothing. Therefore I am nothing, if for all my failures there is but one success. I overcame my inner demons to do what is right, it is what I should have done long ago."
"How do you know about the judgment?"
"Well, let's just call it a plea-bargain that Cid and I worked out depending on the outcome of today also hinged on the fact that I don't end up as a corpse."
"Don't say that!" She threw her head into his chest, wrapping her arms tightly around him.
"Okay, okay but with good behavior it could be down to three years." He looked down at her, raising an eyebrow. "And when have I been on anything but my best behavior?"
She felt the comfort of his arms returning the embrace before retorting, "Don't even ask."
He tried like hell to think of this as a regular mission, it was anything but. All the years of training were failing him, or he was failing himself not sure of which. A week ago, this would have been so easy, emotions hidden under years of painful layers. Now now was the present, today he had said goodbye to his daughter.
The turmoil raging within his heart was consuming, no amount of planning or strategy could compete with the anguish. For the last few hours, he felt no better than his father, betraying the child that he conceived. Would the history books be as kind to him, as they had been to Laguna Loire? His own father considered a hero and a martyr, but would he and Rinoa be considered the enemy? Only time could tell their fate, only his actions today could decide forever-writing history.
Closing his eyes, he remembered his last precious moments with Allison, trying to convince himself that in time she would understand. He had grown to love her in the few short days he had known her and that was more than his father had given him during his childhood. Laguna Loire left for an enemy country, while he was leaving to save the only woman he ever loved maybe that was the difference time would recount. Maybe Squall could have understood more if Laguna had been there for his mother, in her final breaths Maybe the pain and bitterness could be overshadowed by the love, but it wasn't
Squall Leonhart would sell his eternal soul for Allison and Rinoa to be free from the purgatory they were dealt with morals, ethics, and beliefs would all be challenged in the next few hours.
"Allison, I know you won't understand but I have to go."
"Mama?" The haunting words of the little girl were said with such sadness, he almost lost his composure that very instant.
"Yes, Ally Mama."
She held the same stuffed Cactuar from the day before, clutching onto it as if for dear life. Softly her muffled cries became full-blown sobs, "Mama!"
"What what am I doing?" He questioned himself, and everything he was fighting for it all seemed so black and white before nobody ever told him about the shades of gray. And the gray killed him.
Touching his finger to her soft cheek, he looked one last time into his own steely eyes. He tried to smile, forced to all those gathered around, but oblivious to Allison. His left hand stroked his daughter's hair, feeling the silkiness not even matched by her mother's. Finally the girl moved closer, putting her stubby arms as far around his neck as they could go. He moved his head against her, feeling her rapid heartbeat, so much faster than he would have thought. Could that be normal for a child? Were their heartbeats so much different from his or from any other adult? He had never known; he had never cared until now.
Moving his coarse skin against hers, she was truly an angel only something heavenly could be so soft and innocent. He once again looked into her innocent eyes, "We will always love you; no matter what happens remember that. And go on."
He stood up, choking back the tears, looking the older girl in the eyes. "Selphie Hyne, please, take care of her."
"I will," answered the green-eyed girl hesitantly. "But only while you and Rinoa go away for the weekend, because you will be coming back and Allison will have the biggest birthday party a two year old has ever had."
"Thank you." Somehow, the words seemed to reassure him at that moment. "I'm sure it will be the best party any nation has ever seen."
"You know it Commander." She saluted him trying to forge a smile.
The next minutes were a series of blurs within his memory he remembered holding Allison and then she was gone. Like a ghost, like a memory faded into nothingness. His Daughter was so much more than he could have ever wished, and now he felt that he was turning his back on her. He would never know if what he was doing was the 'right thing' or just another impulse that lead to failure. In the stillness of the cabin, he finally uttered the one word he couldn't say two hours ago to his own flesh and blood.
The wind swirled around them as the craft made its way closer to the Galbadian Republic. The martial artist walked up and sat on the small bench next to her, trying to offer whatever comfort he could.
"You're not serious?" she implored.
"Yes, yes I am."
"How? How do you people put up with this!?" Alex rubbed at her temple in frustration, wishing only for the sensation to subside.
"You get used to it." Zell couldn't help but chuckle at her reactions. He remembered the first time he junctioned with a Guardian Force, but he was yet a child. Somehow he had grown used to it over the years, and even felt secure in spite of the intrusion on his thoughts.
"Damn Zell, I'm used to voices in my head but usually they are speaking the same language I am! Tell me why I am doing this again?"
"Because we can't send you in to the presidential palace unarmed It's Squall's orders."
"Yeah, well can Squall order a GF that speaks the same language I do? This is very annoying."
He snickered as she still sat clenching her head, he could truly understand her uneasiness. First, Alex had never been trained in combat. Second, she was forced to junction with something that was foreign only for the ability to use para-magic, which she had never attempted. And finally, she was scared to death but would never betray her calm exterior or her slightly pissed one at the moment.
"Yah know, Quezacotl is one of Squall's personal GFs. He was assigned to the Commander at a very early age I've never known him to allow someone else to junction his personal Guardians he must think you are really special."
"Yeah, or really stupid."
"Well, if he didn't like you he would have given you Cerberus too, trust me, that could have been really ugly one GF three voices I have my stories."
"I'm sure you do," she smiled slightly, trying to ignore the humming within her mind. "So now that I have this thing, what do I do with it?"
Zell quickly turned to her with a slight amount of fear contained in his eyes, "Don't "
"Ahhh " she screamed, once again lowering her head in agony.
"Yeah whatever you do don't refer to a GF as an 'it' they don't like that too much."
"Thanks for the warning," she snapped sardonically. "Now please tell me how to use El Señor Quezacotl. She lifted her head emphasizing her words. "Well okay El Señor must be acceptable to his Highness. Ohhh!!! Shit..."
"Um Alex, GF's can understand sarcasm. They are trained warriors and don't like to be thought of as second-rate citizens."
"So if he can understand my language, why isn't he speaking it?"
Scratching his head he looked at her innocently, "Well, that's what make's them our Guardians they are truly unique beings, each with extraordinary abilities. Yours just happens to be electricity so as long as you avoid Leviathan you should be all right."
"Oh nothing, just a little GF humor Okay, now let's practice the magic. Do you have the basic spells that I gave you?"
"Yeah, I have four fires and one sleep."
Standing, Zell reached out his hand toward Alexandra, pulling her to her feet. "Okay, do you see that barrel over there?" He pointed across the deck to an empty target. "Now I want you to focus all your energy mind and soul. Close your eyes and feel the power radiate from your fingertips the first time, it's usually a slow sensation that starts at the base of your neck."
"Yeah, I can feel something it's almost uncomfortable, burning."
"Right, now point your palm toward the target and call out the name of the spell. Quezacotl will take care of the rest."
"Fire!" she bellowed with determination.
"Hey Chicken-" Seifer emerged from the other end of the deck at the moment Alex was calling her spell. The intrusion caught her off guard and she turned slightly, missing the barrel and hitting the mast. Its wood base was quickly incinerated, as the mast toppled over to the starboard side of the ship.
"Damn Chicken-Wuss, who knew that your woman would be just as clumsy as "
Moving her palm quickly in his direction, Alexandra focused all her spiritual energy at her target. "Sleep!"
Seifer stopped in mid-word as he fell into a quiet slumber. She smiled at her accomplishment, as it was her first successful test.
"Wow " Zell remained almost speechless at her work. He grabbed her, spinning her around in a moment of playfulness. "Damn, you're a natural!"
She laughed as he set her back on the planking. "Um yeah, now let's just get downstairs before he wakes up."
"Er good idea."
Squall heard someone descending the enclosed stairway into the lower cabin. He looked up from the table, struggling to hide the anxiety in his eyes. Zell and Alexandra tried to retain their balance as the ship hit rougher waters. The small vessel was momentary tossed side-to-side before the fluid motion once again returned.
"Commander," spoke Zell, as he saluted his leader.
"Drop the formalities. Alex did you get a chance to learn the proper techniques of para-magic?" It had been the first words he had spoken to another human being in over three hours, since their departure from Garden.
"Yeah " she tried to keep a straight face. "I also had a crash course in the lesson of surprise."
"Whatever." Squall went back at looking at the engineering floor plans that lay before him. "Alexandra, you are aware that the Palace has been equipped with an anti-magic field? The Guardian can offer you no magical power, unless you're outside the field. However, it may increase your awareness and other natural abilities just don't count on Quezacotl as a failsafe."
"I understand Squall." Alex moved closer, sitting on the patted bench seats of the nook. She placed her right hand on the one he had resting on the table. At first he seemed to be shocked and tried to pull away from the contact, but then felt a strange comfort with her there almost a sisterly one as with Ellone. "I miss Rinoa too And Squall, no matter what I said earlier I do know what she saw in you." She gripped his hand tighter before releasing.
Suddenly, Seifer came running down the stairs, his mid-section and below soaking wet. "We're at the Deling landing, from here we walk the last mile my contact is going to meet Alexandra at the city entrance, in an alley behind the car-rental building. She and I need to be alone or the deal is off. And we need the Gil requested with her."
"Will it be safe? How do we know they won't leave her for dead there?" The tone in Zell's voice clearly showed his reservations.
"Because they are my friends they may be bought, but they have standards."
"That's of little comfort coming from you," Squall answered snidely to the man. "But right now, I see no other choice. Yes, we have the demanded Gil, half now the other half when we get into the palace I may pay, but I'm not stupid."
"Seifer?" Questioned Zell. "Why are you wet?"
"Funny story," he spoke with anger, raising an eyebrow toward the lone female. "Somehow I feel asleep on the deck, when I woke up I was headed overboard luckily, Quistis woke me up in time to grab the bottom railing."
"Oh " Alex choked on her own words, "that's terrible."
When they reached the landing, all trace of playfulness or innocence was lost. All that remained were the warriors that would try to take on a tyrant's army ones that would, at any cost, fight for their redemption. As they walked the way to the city limits, the trip was performed in virtual silence. Squall lead, never once looking back...followed by Alexandra and Zell who remained silent, exchanging looks once in a awhile, neither really knowing what to say. Seifer and Quistis walked the entire mile almost hand-in-hand, each knowing these could be their last minutes together, and savoring each one of them.
"Wake up beautiful."
She felt someone stroking her hair, as she slowly awoke into the world.
"I can be whoever you want." Mitchell reached down seductively biting her on the shoulder, when the pain registered she quickly opened her eyes. She immediately tried to push him from her, realizing she again had been put into handcuffs. A small gasp of pain left her lips, as she tried to hold back the tears. He hadn't released his grip as she struggled from the weight of his body. Finally she was able to use her legs to push away, but not before he had bitten through her skin the blood slowly trailed down her shoulder blade.
"Get the Hell away from me! You fucking bastard!"
"Oh, is that any way to treat the person who holds your future in the palm of his hands?"
"No I would never treat a person that way," she hissed.
"Very funny you bitch." He stood up grabbing her, turning her around she felt the sting of a needle enter her thigh. "When you die today I will be the last person you see. I am your god I control what happens to you. You die when I say so, you live only to fulfill my needs. Your power is nothing without me, you are nothing."
"You will never have my power," she spat.
"You know the ironic thing? The fair citizens of Deling think that dear-old Dr. Odine actually found a way to harness your power so it can be sealed for all time whatever. They actually think that hunting you was to destroy the very power you possess and I suppose in a perfect world it would have been sealed. However, this isn't a perfect world, is it? No, sadly, I am unable to receive the embodiment of a sorceress but I have handpicked your replacement. She will answer only to me I own her."
"You will never own her you might think that now, but when she receives the power she will realize that you are nothing. No one would ever need you."
"What!?" The fear took over. "You said you said she was safe at Garden!"
"I lied." Mitchell was sure she wouldn't call his bluff, at the moment she had more strength than he wanted to admit even if Rinoa didn't know it. Moreover, the constant fear of looking over his shoulder at every move was starting to make him paranoid. No, he wasn't afraid, he would never be He was after all President of Galbadia, Leader of the World Council, and soon to be the leader of the world he was more powerful than any sorceress was.
"No! You you can't, I came with you .you "
"I can do anything I want now if you are a good-little girl, and do what uncle Mitchell says," he spoke in a mocking voice. "Then Allison lives let's just say she is my insurance policy that I get what I want, and the powers are passed to whom I say no little tricks from beyond the grave."
Could he truly have kidnapped Allison? She thought the scene at Garden over in her mind, but Ally wasn't on the helicopter with them it was possible he had others planted there. Hell, it was probable that he did. But would Squall have damn she didn't know anymore she was sure that Allison was safe. She would have betted her life on it, in fact she was. Nevertheless, if there was once ounce of truth to what Mitchell just said, she couldn't take the risk until she knew for sure.
She looked him directly in the eyes. "What did you inject me with?"
"It's a little something extra from Odine it suppresses your powers, and all use of any magic but you will be completely aware of your surroundings. In other words, you won't miss one minute of your execution and you will see the children fear you, and cheer for your demise. I like to think of it as a small going away present from me."
She didn't answer him, the thoughts of Allison and Squall still haunted her. She knew they were safe, they had to be.
"Come on," he ordered, pulling her toward the door. "There are a few more orders of business before the execution."
She followed him out into the first part of the palace, where she was surprised to see other cells full of prisoners and each showed trepidation in their eyes when they looked at her. Thieves, rapist, and murderers all feared her. She avoided eye contact with them as she walked the long hallways. They threw things and called her names, things she had heard before they were nothing new. As one barred gate was opened, she noticed a far away window. She could see the blueness of the sky, and thought how beautiful it was in all the horror, she still found a moment to find beauty. She recalled dreams that she had over the years, at the blue sky that was always an integral part along with the fields and beaches. She closed her eyes, as she was lead down the corridor
Sometimes in dreams we can fly, and in others we fall. However, rarely in dreams does reality play a part. To dream is to live, to wake is to die. A place where life seems perfect, and all truths are just illusions painted upon a wall. When we awake from slumber, some part of us dies, whether it is imagination or desire. By chance, we keep a small grain of those dreams alive. They give us hope; let us see beyond our means to the future we want.
The same one, which will never be.
If I wanted to lay blame, I could. From the moment I was born, to the moment of my dying breath. It's always easier to blame others for our own failures, our own shortcomings. But blame only lies within ourselves, hidden far away between our heart and mind. Could I blame the one who started the lie? Could I blame the man who loved me, but failed to trust in me? Could I blame the man who will pull the final switch today?
I could blame them all. But, I do not.
I blame only myself, and hope others will forgive me for my weakness. I hope, pray in time, they shall forgive themselves. That, by far, is harder than to do than any mortal shall ever know.
To those who gave me life I thank you. From my parents to my daughter. And to you Squall Leonhart, I shall always love you. You gave me life, you gave me love, and you gave me a reason to believe. I know you are out there somewhere, looking into the distant horizon blaming yourself. But wherever you are, I beg of you to stop. I beg of you to move on, for when it's all said and done, your love was worth the price. Teach our daughter well, teach her of life and love teach her of us.
I pray today you do not witness this execution, nor her. The memories will haunt you forever. Instead, I hope you walk with her upon a distant shore. Take her to where the oceans and the terra meet. Let her run amongst the flowers of the fields, feeling free, and never knowing of our failures. My time upon this world was greater than any dream
When I fall away from this earth, I only hope the dreams live on within me.
Author Notes: Hey just wanted to let everyone know until the end of the story, I will update on Thursdays until I am done! So you shall know when it is up. And again, no hurting me
Final Fantasy 8 Fanfic